High Resolution Studies Of The Sun Using The New Solar Telescope (Nst)

Project: Research project

Project Details


The Principal Investigator (PI) and his team note that the New Solar Telescope (NST) of Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO), with its advanced adaptive optics system, will be the primary US observing facility for ground-based high-resolution studies of the Sun for most of the next decade. This BBSO team will utilize NST photometric and polarimetric data collected across the spectrum from 0.4-5.0 microns, as well as diffraction limited imaging and vector magnetograms (VMGs) in visible and near-infrared light, to accomplish cutting-edge research in solar physics. Among other science topics, the PI''s team will study the origin of ultrafine magnetic loops in the solar atmosphere, as well as plasma eruptions along these loops, using high-resolution NST observations of plasma flows and vector magnetic fields as a function of altitude. The team will compare line profile data to simulation output to probe the physical origin of the dynamics of these loops. The PI will also perform sub-arcsecond resolution studies of the quiet solar atmosphere to probe small-scale emerging flux, the Sun''s 'magnetic carpet,' and the local dynamo while exploiting NST VMGs and velocity maps along with simulations. The team''s science objectives also include the investigation of the small-scale structure and dynamics of sunspots, using VMGs and velocity fields as a function of altitude, to clarify the formation and evolution of sunspot elements, such as 'umbral dots,' Evershed flows, and penumbral structures. The PI will also probe solar photospheric and chromospheric dynamics, such as the magnetic network, spicules, and cool chromospheric areas, using the NST''s fully cryogenic solar spectrograph known as CYRA. CYRA will observe in the 1-5 micron spectral regime, which heretofore has not been well explored.

The PI''s team also plans to use the NST as a unique test bed for the hardware, instrumentation, and data analysis destined for use with the new off-axis, 4-meter Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST) expected to come online at decade''s end. BBSO will develop the next generation of solar instrumentation for the NST, which will serve as important pathfinders for the ATST project. As a community facility, BBSO will help train the next generation of scientists for building instruments and developing modern data analysis techniques, in an integrated approach to research and education. BBSO''s high-resolution data, coupled with analytical tools, will help increase our understanding of the origins of space weather events and improve space weather forecasts. NST data will be made Publicly available online and through the solar physics community''s Virtual Solar Observatory infrastructure in near real-time.
Effective start/end date4/1/133/31/18


  • National Science Foundation


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